West End Theatre Guide
Tina is a musical by Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins, following the story of the rock and roll legend, Tina Turner, which is making its world premiere at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre. The show opens with the silhouette of Tina as she prepares to go on stage and chants her ancestral music. Instead of then kicking off the show by launching straight into the glories of Tina Turner as the world-renowned solo singer, we cut back to Tina as a child in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she was born as Anna-Mae Bullock, and even then, we can glimpse the future strength of the woman and the makings of the star.
Over the course of the story, Tina endures many hardships, beginning in her childhood when her mother fled from her abusive father. Whilst the abuse in Tina’s later life is well-known, this moment in the musical comes as a shock to the audience because we see just how early domestic violence entered Tina’s life, and this then continued into her marriage to Ike Turner, who spotted her talents, gave her the name Tina Turner, and put her at the forefront of his band which became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
After splitting from the abusive Ike, the hardships continued as Tina struggled to re-establish herself as a solo act, with ongoing disputes over performance rights with her ex-husband and ex-professional partner, and the perception she was a “has been”. With help from record producer Roger Davies, she established herself as not just a solo act, but a rock and roll singer, and Tina of course went on to be crowned the “Queen of Rock and Roll”.
The show has themes of domestic violence and racism, but also ones of great endurance and, above all, spirit. It is a story of extreme highs and lows, but the spirited fighter, Tina, comes out victorious and, through the hardships, the audience is really rooting for her and is uplifted by her eventual success as an artist and freedom as a woman.
Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along, Bring It On, Dreamgirls) gave a knockout performance as Tina, having mastered the mannerisms and stage presence of the star, not to mention the range of vocals, from highs to gravelly lows, and she delivers a classy, soulful performance. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Low Road) played the unlikeable Ike Turner, showing his menacing, domineering presence in Tina’s life, but also allowing the audience to see his talented musicianship.
Tina is a sensational musical, a true testament to the power-house legend that is Tina Turner and an embodiment of her spirit, endurance and perseverance. The epic score consists of over twenty classic songs, including ‘Nutbush City Limits’, ‘Proud Mary’, ‘River Deep Mountain High’, and ‘Simply the Best’.